Being able to express your business idea in a clear, concise and coherent way is how entrepreneurs attract investment, new partners and talent. Pitching a new business to an audience, however, especially a large room full of potential partners, can be incredibly intimidating. Moreover, trying to fit everything you know and want to say about your idea in a short pitch, without sounding like a southern cattle auctioneer, is always a challenge.
It all comes down to delivery.
Last week, my fellow Startup.SC cohort entrepreneurs and I delivered our first public business pitch to a standing room full of business leaders, students and potential investors. After several weeks of preparation and practice, the room was buzzing with excitement and anticipation.
I was apprehensive about this first presentation. Startup.SC focuses on web-based startup companies, but my new business idea, Naked Cask, runs under a more traditional model (with technology support). To overcome these expectations and sell the crowd on my new idea, I focused less on the business and more on these simple tactics.
1. Demonstrate your passion.
I am a fairly passionate guy, especially when talking about something as exciting as startups and business -- not to mention craft beer, the basis for my new business idea. For me, demonstrating passion comes easy, but for others not so much. As an observer, mentor and judge, I have seen numerous pitches fall flat because the entrepreneur failed to deliver even an ounce of passion through their pitch.
Being passionate does not require you to be as animated as Robin Williams circa 1977. Simply showing a little enthusiasm for your idea, and even dropping the simple line, “I am passionate about this,” is all you really need.
2. Tell the story.
Most pitches follow a format of problem, solution, plan. They are predictable and tiresome. What I remember most about the best pitches I have heard are the incredible personal stories involved with identifying the problem and finding the solution. It is through personal narrative that an entrepreneur connects to the audience, and it is through that connection, in that brief amount of time, that they earn respect and confidence.
Of course, time is limited, so your story needs to be completely pertinent to your idea. Do not waste this valuable time with stories that do not support your idea or credibility.
3. Focus on team and execution.
The greatest business ideas are worthless if not executed properly. For this reason, your pitch needs to emphasize the value that you and your team add to the project, and more important your ability to see the idea through to fruition. Again, this involves weaving a pertinent and personal story into the narrative while effectively and concisely demonstrating your team's experience and background.
4. Have a good idea.
Of course, a pitch is nothing without a worthy idea. I purposely put this point last, however, as great entrepreneurs and persuasive pitches can convince an audience that even a small problem is worth solving. For the most part, if investors are sold on you, your team and your passion and commitment to see ideas through, they will find a way to get involved, regardless of the idea.
There is no shortage of amazing resources for pitching investors available to entrepreneurs. What I have found, however, is that whether you are pitching an idea to single person or standing-room-only venue, consider yourself as an entertainer performing a one man/woman monologue. Like every great monologue, every word and every emphasis is strategically and effectively crafted to have the highest impact on the story. Your pitch is no different.
Master these concepts and you will capture the room's attention, garner the respect and confidence you deserve, and hopefully find the partners you need to take your business to the next level.
By Peter Gasca, Entrepreneur and Small Business Strategist